I STARTED PLAYING ORGAN IN 1963 AS A COLLEGE FRESHMAN. I HAD TAKEN
piano lessons when I was very young but didn’t care for them. Then I heard Jimmy
Smith around 1962 and decided I wanted to play the Hammond. I became a B-3 owner
in 1964. I played pedals and left hand bass for several years early on, which gave me a
real appreciation for the Hammond and its incredible power, versatility, and soul. These
days, I seldom end a tune with the same drawbar settings I began with. Here are five of
my favorite starting registrations you can try on your Hammond or clone.
1. Smith Plus
This takes the Jimmy Smith-style sound
and adds the 4' drawbar for more body.
I set the harmonic percussion “four up:”
on, soft volume, fast decay, and third
harmonic. Without the percussion, it’s a
solid sound for rock and R&B comping.
I set vibrato chorus to C3 and leave the
Leslie (or rotary simulation) on slow.
This understated stop is full of character.
It works well for comping as well as block
chord soloing. I seldom keep the Leslie
on fast for long, but this sound is the exception,
as the fast speed is part of the
“simmer.” I don’t use harmonic percussion
or vibrato/chorus, but you can set the latter
to C3 if you want a little more edge.
Here’s a nice round tone for comping
behind singers or other soloists—no
vibrato/chorus or harmonic percussion
on this one. For this sound, as well as
for most others I play, I change Leslie
speeds often and quickly.
This Gospel-tinged tone will still penetrate
over a full band. Harmonic percussion
is off, and I vary between no vibrato/
chorus and the C3 setting. This sound
works well for rhythm comping, and will
help get an organ solo over the top of
the guitar player. I constantly alternate
Leslie speeds on this one.
5. Whistle Stop
This versatile sound is good for both soloing
and comping. Vibrato/chorus is set
to C3, and there’s no harmonic percussion.
With this sound, I prefer the Leslie
fast for soloing, and slow for comping.
GO TO SHOWS!
“Watching great organists
play live—not just listening
to their recordings—will
help your musical education
legendary organist Mike
Finnigan, who has played
with Jimi Hendrix; Joe Cocker;
Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Rod
Stewart; and most recently
Bonnie Raitt, with whom he’s
now touring. He’s also sung
and played with the Phantom
Blues Band for 13 years.